What is going wrong? To install plastic anchors I was taught to drill a small hole (exact size of anchor or slightly smaller.... lightly tap in anchor until fully recessed and face is flush with drywall... screw the screw into anchor slowly so it bites. Isn't this correct?? A large percentage of my anchors pull out (screw and anchor together)... Is there any reason this might be happening?

  • Well, you don't say what's behind your drywall... which leaves a huge number of things that you could be wrong. Too many frankly to be worth enumerating. "lightly tap in anchor until fully recessed and face is flush with drywall" is wrong most of the time, if you have brick or concrete under the drywall (you need to push through the drywall). And you you have nothing/air behind your drywall, you're probably using the wrong kind of anchor; those for hanging on just drywall don't get installed by just tapping, usually. Commented Aug 22, 2019 at 1:12

7 Answers 7


The Hole is too big:

It could be that your pilot holes are too big. When the screw is inserted, the anchor does not expand enough to bite into the surrounding hole. Keep in mind that most plastic anchors are tapered, so you want them to fit tightly in the hole. If you can push them in too easily, then the hole is too big. Some plastic anchors have a slight lip (collar) at the end, to prevent the anchor from slipping into the wall. When drilling the pilot hole, it must be smaller than this collar. So the anchor will not sit perfectly flush with the wall, when it's pushed into the hole.

enter image description here

Material is not stable enough:

Another common problem is that the material you are putting the anchor into, is not stable enough to hold the anchor in place. This can be particularly problematic with older plaster. You install the anchor, then when you insert the screw the expansion of the anchor crumbles the surrounding plaster. This causes the anchor to fall out, since it's essentially being held in place by dust.

Items are too heavy:

It could be that you are hanging too much weight on the anchors. Drywall and plaster are not designed to carry loads, so applying too much weight to a single point will cause the anchor to come loose.

Items are too thick"

You may also run into trouble if the item you are attaching to the wall is too thick. If the screw does not penetrate the anchor deep enough, the anchor will not expand enough to hold it in the hole.

enter image description here

Material is too hard:

You can even run into trouble if the material you are putting the anchor in is too solid. If you put the anchor in a material that is too solid (2" steel plate), when you put the screw in the anchor may actually not be able to expand. This can cause the anchor to deform and break, and again fall out of the hole.

Wrong size screw: (Thanks Joe).

If the screw is too small, it will not expand the anchor enough to bite into the wall. If the screw is too large, it can damage the anchor and/or surrounding material causing the anchor to fail.

The screw is too long:

If there is a solid surface behind the anchor, using a screw that's too long could cause the anchor to pull out of the hole as you tighten down the screw. You'll have to remove the screw and anchor, then drill the hole deeper to fix this.

enter image description here

  • 4
    One more -- using the wrong size screw for the anchor. If it's too small, it won't force the anchor to bite; too large, and it can break the material or the anchor.
    – Joe
    Commented Nov 7, 2011 at 23:58
  • 1
    Half the time I buy them in sets with the screws and anchors together. Sometimes they'll even come with the correct size bit. The next time, I just make sure the buy the same size plugs as came in the previous set that I bought or buy the same size bit as the one I'm replacing.
    – Zach
    Commented Dec 9, 2011 at 18:36
  • 2
    The screw causes the anchor to expand and bite into the wall as it goes in. Make sure the screw is thick enough and long enough to go all the way to the end of the anchor (more of what @Joe said). Commented Oct 6, 2012 at 3:08
  • Flaky wall material can also cause failure. I have some horsehair plaster walls that simply will NOT support anchors no matter what I use--they're basically compressed dust held together with paint after 100 years. Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 13:04
  • Thanks. I feel really stupid. The hole I drilled had the exact same length as the anchor, and the anchor could perfectly fit inside the hole. I didn't think that the screws I tried to use are 8mm longer than the anchor, and it depressed me to see the anchor slowly creeping out of the hole every time I tried to tighten everything. Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 13:22

The plastic anchor is good enough if want to hang a feather dream catcher on it.

These other metal ones with the big counter sunk cylinders on them are ok to hang a small picture frame on it.

If you need some more hanging wieght i would recomend using these on a drywall on the empty space.

Reasonably more hanging power- should hold a large picture frame 1-3kg

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Heavy duty (bit more difficult to install- as your drilled hole needs to be prettyr precise) 1-5kg

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MOre or less the concept behind using a butterfly anchor on a drywall

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Here you will notice how the drywall is mounted on the wood studs. If you best hanging capacity then you want to find the Vertical (horizontal is not good idea for very heavy stuff like 50" tv's) stud and... (If you have metal studs you will need metal self tap'ing screws or butterfly anchors for metals studs)

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use these screws (the black ones are the best) and screw them into the wooden studs- Use battery operated drill with a right screw head and when you are screwing it in to the wooden stud you should hear it scream and screech! Thats when its the tightest and best. Doing by hand is OK- but will take longer- DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN IT!

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Here is my priceless set of guitars hung using the last method

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I could hang my self on there and be confident that it wont rip out.

Please remember to make sure there are no electrics, gas or water pipes in the area you going to drill!

  • 1
    I would NOT recommend using drywall screws for sheer loads. They are fragile and prone to stress failures--this led to a number of high-profile injuries(/deaths?) some years back. For hanging guitars with that many screws it's probably fine--but for a structural application, use the appropriate fastener. In your case nails into the stud would probably have worked just fine, and nails are much better at supporting sheer loads... Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 13:03
  • 1
    NEVER use those screws for ANYTHING other than hanging drywall. They are far too brittle to use as a framing/construction/general purpose screw. Please change this image to use the proper type of screw, (GRK R4, just one example).... holy crap, your priceless guitars! .... ^ might think it's fine, I wouldn't risk my guitars on easily snapped drywall screws. Commented Apr 21, 2021 at 3:11
  • @J.M.Becker: Just curious : how do you recognize that the screws are brittle? I usually pick Spax screws, which look similar to the GRK R4 you mentioned. Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 13:21
  • Spax construction screws are also an example of the type of screw that should be used, GRK R4 was just my example, I would be just as happy with something built using either one. You could easily get away with bargain bin style deck screws, or old school wood screws, basically anything other than drywall screws. Commented Feb 14, 2022 at 22:21

I had the same problem, a hole about 1/2 inch behind the screw hole in dead plaster where a coat rack came down.

I searched for solutions on the web, as just filling the hole and redrilling had never previously worked for me, the filler didn't bond well enough to the dead plaster behind, and the rawl plug just ended up rotating, or the filler came out (This is with polyfilla type filler; I hadn't tried epoxy)

I found something called wetnfix which is a pack of thin cotton discs impregnated with a gypsum based material which you dip in water, shake off excess, and wrap round the wall plug / rawl plug / anchor. You then put this in the hole (already drilled to depth, cleared of loose material etc) and leave for three minutes.

It says on the packet you can use more pads round each wall plug if the hole is bigger. I used two on one (good quality) wall plug, the other hole was bigger, and as it was going to be covered, I jammed in two smaller (good quality) wall plugs each with a wetnfix wrapped round it (I didn't want to use the whole pack of 20 on one hole!).

The manufacturer says 3 minutes to set, and add a minute for each extra pad used in the same hole.

I erred on the safe side and left it half an hour. I screwed the coat rack up and it went in beautifully. I had a to put a LOT of torque on the head held screwdriver to drive the screw fully in, and it was rock solid.

VERY impressed. I will always keep a pack of these around. I would keep them somewhere dry, as I imagine old ones could absorb water if damp and go off prematurely.


For what it's worth, I really dislike the traditional, plastic anchors. When I buy something (like a shelf) I throw away the included plastic anchors. Having them pull out of the wall even one time is too much.

I buy the screw-in style anchors. They come in plastic and metal (see pictures) depending on how much weight you need supported. They are easy to install after drilling a pilot hole, and they don't pull loose. A vast improvement over the traditional plastic anchor.

Plastic Style Anchor

Metal Style Anchor

  • 4
    These anchors don't work so well in plaster walls.
    – Tester101
    Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 4:41
  • Or even old school drywall boards. They tend to tear apart rather than drill in. However, the metal one... it might work well in plaster if you don't apply too much torque. Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 15:51
  • Do these work in brick and block walls, or just down market plaster board walls?
    – Walker
    Commented Nov 29, 2011 at 14:24

The problem of the anchor not holding could be caused by poor hole drilling technique. If the drill turns too slowly, like by being in low gear, or is pushed into the wall too fast, and/or uses the wrong type of drill bit—such as a speed bit. These speed bits are not suitable for drilling drywall: enter image description here enter image description here

Worse, some people hammer in a nail to create the hole.

While these techniques may appear to drill a nice hole in the wall, what actually happens is that the drywall inside the hole is ripped out so that it is not a nice firm tunnel through the wall but is instead an impact crater facing inside the wall. This leaves very little structure for the anchor to attach to and would be expected to pull out easily.

  • So, which drill bit do you recommend? Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 13:25
  • Is there a way to tell from the outside if you mess up on the drilling? Like how to evaluate the quality of the drilled hole.
    – David
    Commented Dec 3, 2022 at 22:07
  • A standard drill bit for woodworking run through at a moderate speed so it preservers the structure of the drywall. Inspect the result for cracking or tearing, Probably the hole is too small to look through. Make it with moderate speed and pressure is the only way I know to preserve its structure.
    – wallyk
    Commented Dec 4, 2022 at 7:15

I solved the problem by blowing out the dust from inside of the hole before slipping in the anchor.



Use wood wall plugs for concrete and brickwalls . Use butterfly /winged plastic plugs for dry chalk walls/plaster ceiling . Metal is better than wood and wood is better than plastic anchors/wall plugs . Plastic plugs always tend to twist and turn as you screw but wood plugs always stays in its position while metal anchors/wall plugs are used for holding heavy loads .

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